Rachael Hanel\u2019s name was inscribed on a gravestone when she was eleven years old. Yet this wasn\u2019t at all unusual in her world: her father was a gravedigger in the small Minnesota town of Waseca, and death was her family\u2019s business. Her parents were forty-two years old and in good health when they erected their gravestone-Rachael\u2019s name was simply a branch on the sprawling family tree etched on the back of the stone. As she puts it: I grew up in cemeteries.And you don\u2019t grow up in cemeteries-surrounded by headstones and stories, questions, curiosity-without becoming an adept and sensitive observer of death and loss as experienced by the people in this small town. For Rachael Hanel, wandering among tombstones, reading the names, and wondering about the townsfolk and their lives, death was, in many ways, beautiful and mysterious. Death and mourning: these she understood. But when Rachael\u2019s father-Digger O\u2019Dell-passes away suddenly when she is fifteen, she and her family are abruptly and harshly transformed from bystanders to participants. And for the first time, Rachael realizes that death and grief are very different.At times heartbreaking and at others gently humorous and uplifting, We\u2019ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down presents the unique, moving perspective of a gravedigger\u2019s daughter and her lifelong relationship with death and grief. But it is also a masterful meditation on the living elements of our cemeteries: our neighbors, friends, and families-the very histories of our towns and cities-and how these things come together in the eyes of a young girl whose childhood is suffused with both death and the wonder of the living.
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Number of pages: 200
Weight: 295 g
Dimensions: 216 x 140 x 18 mm
"We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down gently untucks dying, death, and mourning from the dark recesses of the drawer we Midwesterners, descendants of the stoic and neat, have kept it. Choice passages of Hanel's story so affected me that my throat went sore swallowing grief. All the while, I had the sense of watching a determined child fall down, scrape her knee, and stand up, lip quivering, eyes glistening but resolute." -Nicole Helget, author of The Turtle Catcher
"Mesmerizing!" -Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home